We’re making progress on our New Year’s resolutions here at Circles USA (CUSA). At the top of our to-do list: launching a non-partisan Civic Participation Campaign for 2020.
When CUSA Chapters advance systemic change on key issues, we call this work the Big View. In an election year like 2020, we have a unique opportunity to scale-up Big View efforts across the country and raise visibility for the mission of ending poverty.
Campaign Activities for Civic Participation
Activities this year include:
- Webinars to support CUSA members to promote voter education and voter turnout
- Newsletters that share how CUSA members are tackling key issues like affordable housing, the Cliff Effect, transportation, and more
- Resources that articulate CUSA’s anti-poverty agenda and that enable CUSA members to take action
To begin, CUSA is hosting a February webinar with guest facilitator Amy Basken, a seasoned legislative advocate and volunteer with Circles Sauk Prairie, WI. Amy’s presentation will refresh participants on: how a bill becomes a law; which policy makers to contact; tips for in-person and virtual communication with officials; opportunities during an election year; and the importance of sharing your stories with those in a position to make change.
In subsequent months, we’ll highlight Big View success stories and feature resources on specific issues of critical importance to the network. For example, CUSA Chief Learning Officer Kamatara Johnson recently surveyed all Chapters about their Big View experiences and aspirations. The 24 survey responses revealed these top issues:
- Housing (19%)
- The Cliff Effect (12%)
- Low Wages and Quality Jobs (11%)
- Transportation (11%)
- Health and Wellbeing including Trauma (8%)
- Childcare (8%)
Because those experiencing poverty are considered the experts, input from Circle Leaders will drive our efforts to design community-wide solutions.
By the conclusion of this campaign, we’ll create a compendium with everything we collectively learned this year.
CUSA’s Civic Participation Campaign will engage a diversity of political viewpoints. We believe that sustainable social change comes from the bottom up, when individual members of the community compel elected officials and institutions to take action. By encouraging voter education and voter turnout in 2020, we seek to ensure that all candidates elected will embrace an agenda concerned with ending poverty.
This campaign is non-partisan, and we will provide CUSA members with information about how to be civically engaged while honoring our status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
The Big View Advisory Committee is meeting every 4-6 weeks to lead the campaign’s strategy and activities. Thanks to members, Joan Kuriansky (CUSA Board); Lisa Doyle-Parsons (CUSA Coach in WV); Amy Basken (CUSA Volunteer in WI); and Lynette Fields (Circles Central Florida Director in FL). To join this Committee or contribute to campaign plans, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To stay informed, sign-up for our Big View monthly newsletter on poverty research and policy change.
~ Jamie Haft, Executive Director, Circles USA